Bargaining

Our Bargaining Team negotiates with the UF Board of Trustees’ (BOT) bargaining team over the terms of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Our current contract is the 2021-24 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which was ratified on June 18, 2021. Every year, Article 24 (Salaries) is reopened for negotiating the terms of our salaries, including any raises. When needed, the bargaining teams also negotiate Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) which modify the terms of the current contract. All agreements between between the UFF and BOT teams must be ratified by the UF Board of Trustees and all members of the UFF-UF bargaining unit, irrespective of union membership. Links to past and current CBA’s as well as MOUs are available at the Contract/CBA page. Contact the Bargaining Team: uff-uf-bargaining@googlegroups.com


RECORDED MEETINGS


Bargaining Report on Article 26 and Appendix G (2021-24 CBA)

June 1, 2021

UFF-UF and the UF administration have been negotiating the CBA articles pertaining to outside activities and conflict of interest since Spring 2020. These articles include Article 26, which governs outside activities and conflicts of interest, and Appendix G, which stipulates how faculty should disclose outside activities and potential conflicts of interest.

Negotiations on this topic began when UF introduced a complete overhaul of the existing Article 26 in March 2020. This proposal was motivated by: 

-A new Florida state law regulating disclosures for faculty engaged in sponsored research

-Increased federal scrutiny concerning foreign interference in US institutions of higher learning

-UF’s desire to maintain stricter oversight of faculty’s outside activities, as well as potential conflicts of interest and commitment

UF’s original Article 26 proposal was, in the union’s view, deeply flawed. It included both circular and imprecise definitions of key terms. It invaded faculty members’ privacy by requiring information about faculty members’ random extracurricular activities as well as extended family members’ financial interests. It attempted to disguise non-compete agreements as conflicts of interest. It demanded information on an excessive range of activities related to expert witness and legal consulting services. And it went far beyond comparable policies on outside activities and conflicts of interest at peer institutions. In short, the original proposal provided faculty with little useful guidance on what to report while giving UF too much power to meddle in faculty members’ life outside of work.

Since then, UFF-UF has worked hard to improve UF’s Article 26 proposal. After exchanging dozens of proposals over a similar number of meetings this past year, we have agreed on new language that represents a marked improvement over UF’s original proposal and, in some respects, over the existing Article 26. 

What’s New in the New Article 26

Key differences between the previous Article 26 and the new version are as follows:

1. Clearer definitions of conflict of interest and commitment. The previous article included an imprecise definition of conflict of interest that, in some instances, more accurately referred to conflict of commitment. The new article therefore includes more precise definitions of both terms.  It limits conflict of interest to a list of twelve activities either related to the faculty member’s institutional expertise, specified by Florida statute, or both. It defines conflict of commitment as outside activities that, because of the time devoted to these activities or the frequency of their occurrence, directly and adversely affect a faculty member’s performance on their assigned duties. And, in the event that UF denies an outside activity, it requires the University to demonstrate, in writing, how the denied activity falls afoul of one or both of these clearly-defined conflicts.

2.Clearer definition of inside activities. The previous article did not clearly distinguish between outside and inside activities. The new article, by contrast, clearly defines inside activities as activities that are assessed as part of a faculty member’s annual performance evaluation. It also explicitly exempts faculty from reporting inside activities as a potential conflict of interest or commitment.

3.Timelines for approving / denying outside activities. The previous article did not hold UF to a clear timeline for approving or denying an outside activity. As a result, UF could indefinitely extend this process by repeatedly asking faculty members for more information, more time to consider that information, or both. The new article, on the other hand, establishes a clear timeline for this process. It also creates an expedited grievance process if UF denies an activity and a faculty member wants to object.

4.Clearer information on who determines conflicts of interest and commitment. The previous article did not specify who is responsible for determining conflicts of interest and commitment. The new article clearly identifies the responsible parties.

5.Clearer guidance on cash prizes. The previous article did not provide clear distinctions between innovation inducement cash value prizes, on the one hand, and grants and other types of awards and prizes, on the other. The new article, by contrast, provides clearer definitions of these terms; it offers faculty members choices for how they want to financially structure their participation in innovation inducement cash value prize competitions; and it more clearly delineates what share of these prizes goes to faculty members and the University, respectively. 

6.New requirement for reporting summer activities. The previous article did not require faculty to report activities that took place outside of their appointment period (except for a handful of activities specified in Florida statute or those involving intellectual property). The new article, on the other hand, requires all 9- and 10-month faculty to report and seek prior approval for paid or sponsored outside activities conducted when not on appointment that:

  • Overlap with the faculty member’s institutional expertise (i.e. what UF hired them to do)
  • Are not subsumed within the faculty member’s “inside activities” (i.e. assigned job responsibilities for which they receive an annual performance evaluation.

This requirement does not affect faculty engaged in active external sponsored research through UF during any part of the year. These faculty were already required by law to report outside activities over the summer. Nor would this policy apply to paid summer activities that are unrelated to a faculty member’s institutional expertise (for instance, an engineering professor who teaches dance lessons). Additionally, the new article prohibits UF from categorizing an activity undertaken outside of a faculty member’s appointment as a conflict of commitment.

Of all the changes in the revised Article 26, this new summer reporting requirement is undoubtedly the most serious setback for UF faculty. These changes in reporting requirements are the product of both state law and UF’s independent initiative. At the state level, a new law required faculty engaged in sponsored research or who share ownership of intellectual property with UF to report all outside activities, even those undertaken outside of their appointment period. 

Nevertheless, UF’s insistence that all other faculty follow the same reporting requirement went well beyond the letter of the law. The University has attempted to justify this requirement as an attempt to ensure that faculty are not using their time outside of appointment to engage in outside activities that could involve a conflict of interest. UFF-UF, on the other hand, continues to believe that this requirement represents an unwarranted intrusion by the UF into the activities of faculty outside of their university appointments.

Why UFF-UF Opted Against Impasse

The UFF-UF Bargaining Team fought this summer reporting requirement long and hard. As you may recall, we surveyed the bargaining unit on this topic and contemplated taking Article 26 to impasse over this issue. Ultimately, however, UFF-UF leadership decided against impasse for three main reasons: 

1.Survey respondents were deeply divided on the question of impasse. While the vast majority of respondents thought the summer reporting requirement represented administrative overreach, only a third strongly supported going to impasse over this issue (with another third strongly opposed and a final third that deferred to UFF-UF’s judgment). 

2.Leadership was concerned about delaying the implementation of benefits that UFF-UF had negotiated as part of the CBA, as well as the possibility that the Board of Trustees would use the impasse process to meddle with other articles of the CBA. 

3.Leadership worried about decertification legislation then under consideration in the Florida legislature. Had this legislation passed, UF faculty could have been left without a CBA, had the union been decertified while the CBA was at impasse. 

We thank you for your guidance and input as we concluded negotiations on Article 26. If you are a UFF-UF member and would like clarification or guidance on reporting your outside activities, please contact the Bargaining Team at uff-uf-bargaining@googlegroups.com. Additionally, if UF denies an outside activity that you undertook while not on appointment, please let both the Bargaining and Grievance Teams know immediately (uff-uf-grievances@googlegroups.com). We believe that any effort by the UF to deny faculty members’ free exercise of their rights while not on appointment is an unlawful restraint of trade and grounds for a lawsuit. 

Negotiations over Appendix G (Disclosure of Outside Activities)

Lastly, in addition to UFF-UF’s protracted negotiations over Article 26, bargaining related to outside activities and conflicts of interest also (and necessarily) resulted in dramatic changes to Article 26’s companion: Appendix G. This appendix governs how faculty report outside activities and potential conflicts of interest.

Overhauling Appendix G was necessary for two main reasons. First, the previous Appendix G neither acknowledged nor aligned with UFOLIO, UF’s new system for reporting outside activities. Second, as negotiations on Article 26 progressed, the previous Appendix G was increasingly out of line with both the increased specificity of the new Article 26 and the up-front reporting necessitated by Article 26’s stricter timelines for approval. Appendix G was therefore updated to accommodate both of these changes.

The contents of Appendix G should be relatively familiar to any in-unit faculty member who has voluntarily chosen to disclose an outside activity using UFOLIO, as UFOLIO’s existing questions and structure served as the starting point for negotiations between UF and the union. Now that negotiations have concluded on this appendix, UF will update UFOLIO to reflect the revised contents of Appendix G, which include a number of wording suggestions and supporting information proposed by UFF-UF. Additionally, once the new contract is ratified and takes effect, in-unit faculty will be required to disclose outside activities using UFOLIO. Until now, UFOLIO remained optional. 

As with all changes to the collective bargaining agreement, members of the UFF-UF bargaining unit will have the opportunity to vote for or against these changes, as part of the larger ratification vote for your new collective bargaining agreement. If you have any questions about the revised Article 26 or Appendix G, please email the UFF-UF Bargaining Team at uff-uf-bargaining@googlegroups.com.

The full text of the revised Article 26 (link)

The full text of the revised Appendix G (link)

Bargaining updates archive (link)

updated 7/26/21